Greece - Attica and the Cyclades

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In the summer of 1993, I was living in Luxembourg. At the end of my assignment there, I decided to go to Greece for a couple of weeks. Following a rather gray and cold summer in Luxembourg I longed to see the sun and the sea. More importantly, I wanted to take black and white photographs there. Some of my favorite photographers had traveled there as well, and I wanted to see how I would handle similar material. I was captivated by Herbert List, To Mykonos, 1993George Hoyningen-Huene, and Horst to name a few. I knew that while the scenery of Northern Europe had changed greatly since the 30s, Greek antiquities had stood for centuries. In the almost 60 years that had passed since List, Hoyningen-Huene, and Horst had traveled to Greece, I guessed that little had changed in many of the areas I wanted to photograph. I was correct.

I had given myself an assignment to photograph in Greece and planned to concentrate on the ruins of ancient Greece and limited my travels to Athens and Sunion, in Attica, and the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and Delos in the Cyclades. Except where people were the subject, I attempted to make sure that no people were present in any of my pictures. I was trying to give the photographs a sense of timeliness. Judging only on the contents of the photograph, I wanted someone looking at photograph to feel like it was perhaps 1910, or 1937, or 1993. Styles should not date the photograph. I also deliberately compromised the crispness of the imaging, opting for higher speed films and larger film grain.

Perhaps my favorite image from the exhibition is the photograph of two guys sitting in a boat. The winds in the Aegean Sea had become too heavy for the ferries to operate. As a result, all those who were relying on the ferries to hop from island to island were now stranded. Luckily for me, I was stranded in Santorini. The photograph was taken on the ferry from Santorini to Mykonos, the first available ferry for several days. Of course, the boat was heavily loaded and seating was at a premium. I was sitting on a bench on the deck of the boat, and people had overflowed into the lifeboats for more seating. I noticed the two guys sitting in the lifeboat and I knew that it could make an interesting picture. I snapped once and was fortunate enough to get the picture I wanted. I feel the photograph really captures a moment between them.

Arch, Delos, 1993Occasionally there are pictures I can see before I snap the camera, and the picture of the arch in Delos is a fine example of that experience. Looking at the arch I immediately saw the geometric relationship of it to all the other ruins. I made sure that I captured exactly what I wanted and used different techniques to "cover" the subject. Complicating the shot were the people continually walking in and out of the frame in the foreground and background. Fortunately I was able to get some photographs while the people were obscured by columns in the photo.

The exhibit premiered in 1994 in Santa Monica, California.


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